How to beat work stress using colour

When it comes to positive mental health, colour is often the forgotten part of the picture. Giving conscious thought to colour in the workplace could be the key to less work stress says Karen Haller, the UK’s leading colour psychology expert.

With 49 per cent of sick days due to work stress, there’s no time for grey days when it comes to positive mental health at work.

Colour and mental health are inextricably linked. Colour defines how we are feeling, how we want to feel, and how we want people to interact with us. However, we’ve forgotten how to use colour with purpose.

For businesses, this means giving conscious thought to using colour in a positive way to boost workplace morale and encourage better health and wellbeing.

Plants are an easy way to inject colour into working spaces. Not only are they great stress-busters – plants have been proven to reduce sick days, increase productivity and enhance creativity – but they are also a great way to elicit positivity and wellbeing.

With careful thought and planning, a welcoming yellow in reception or a calming purple in a breakout area will provide an injection of colour to stimulate happiness and positivity at the right moments. Plus plants are living things, and bringing the outside in will help staff feel calm and relaxed.

Flowering succulents such as kalanchoes are a great choice. Not only do they come in a huge array of colours, but they are fuss-free, undemanding, and will bloom for 10 weeks with minimal watering – perfect for busy offices.

What colour works? Karen Haller’s top tips for a positive, happy workplace

  • Yellow is a welcoming colour – a cheery smile – so yellow plants in a reception are a great way to make staff and visitors feel welcome.
  • Purple is not only the colour of the year, but it is great for quiet contemplation and reflection, so purple in a breakout area can help to create that ‘moment of calm’ ahead of an important meeting or interview.
  • Red is the colour equivalent of an espresso shot – it will give you an instant energy boost to help meet a deadline or give you the stamina to make a difficult client call.
  • Orange elicits fun and playfulness, so using orange in a brainstorming session can help stimulate creativity and laughter.
  • Soft pink is a nurturing, compassionate colour, perfect for consoling a colleague who has missed a promotion or had a rough day.
  • Magenta pink is feisty at heart – the perfect colour for challenging the status quo or showing you’re no push-over
  • White elicits clarity, so white plants on a desk can help to declutter the mind and think clearly.

Karen Haller works in collaboration with Always Kalanchoe

Further reading on work stress

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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